The Hindgut Microbiota of Praying Mantids Is Highly Variable and Includes Both Prey-Associated and Host-Specific Microbes

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 11;13(12):e0208917. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208917. eCollection 2018.


Praying mantids are predators that consume a wide variety of insects. While the gut microbiome of carnivorous mammals is distinct from that of omnivores and herbivores, the role of the gut microbiome among predatory insects is relatively understudied. Praying mantids are the closest known relatives to termites and cockroaches, which are known for their diverse gut microbiota. However, little is known about the mantid gut microbiota or their importance to host health. In this work, we report the results of a 16S rRNA gene-based study of gut microbiome composition in adults and late-instar larvae of three mantid species. We found that the praying mantis gut microbiome exhibits substantial variation in bacterial diversity and community composition. The hindgut of praying mantids were often dominated by microbes that are present in low abundance or not found in the guts of their insect prey. Future studies will explore the role of these microbes in the digestion of the dietary substrates and/or the degradation of toxins produced by their insect prey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cockroaches / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / classification
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Digestive System / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Isoptera / microbiology
  • Mantodea / genetics
  • Mantodea / microbiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

This work was supported by funds provided by the University of Georgia. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of manuscript.